Sweet treats for sweethearts

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Sweet treats for sweethearts
The espresso chocolate torte at Cafe 44 is topped with vanilla whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Photo/Cafe 44
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By Olivia Anderson | oanderson@alextimes.com

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, which means many people are beginning to think about how – and with whom – they want to spend the special day, as well as where to make a reservation.

Alexandria has endless options in a variety of neighborhoods and with a variety of flavor profiles. Because the romantic holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, some restaurants are featuring special prix-fixe menus for an extended period of time.

Whether you’re looking for something more casual or an intimate and luxurious atmosphere, we’ve got you covered with a list of city spots for a perfect date night.

The Loft at Lena’s

Located in Del Ray at 401 E. Braddock Road, the Loft at Lena’s is a secret, intimate space located upstairs within the popular Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap that offers a truly romantic atmosphere. From glowing lighting to velvet banquets to hanging chandeliers, the current Velvet and Rye experience provides a “1920s speakeasy old world glam” feel, Operations Manager Donna Shore said.

“I really do think it has the luxurious atmosphere while still giving you the warmth and comfort, and all of our tables are not tightly next to each other,” Shore said. “… It’s a great place because it has that sexy 1920s flapper feel to it, but it also has enough energy where you can feel like you’re part of something great but not sitting right next to the next couple.”

Located in a secretive upstairs space, the Loft at Lena’s includes glowing lighting, velvet banquets and hanging chandeliers to provide a truly romantic atmosphere. Photo/The Loft at Lena’s

Lena’s is offering a prix-fixe menu on Valentine’s Day with the choice of two appetizers, two entrees, a dessert and a choice of house wines, one of which includes champagne. Appetizer options include a jumbo shrimp cocktail and winter salad and whipped feta; entree options include lobster carbonara and slow roasted prime rib; and dessert includes key lime pie, affogato and dark chocolate panna cotta.

City Kitchen

Pop over to Alexandria’s West End for a fun twist on American cuisine and a wide range of local beers, house infused liquors and wines. City Kitchen, located at 330 S. Pickett St., is an industrial-chic gastropub with iron, concrete and wood decor and a menu inspired by American cities.

If you’re looking for a cozy, laid-back atmosphere for Valentine’s Day, City Kitchen is the spot for you. The restaurant provides a three-course menu for the big day, with the first course offering three choices: Manhattan phyllo brie cups baked with bourbon-soaked apples and finished with sour filthy cherries; broccoli and gouda soup; and winter salad.

The third course of City Kitchen’s Valentine’s Day menu includes several dessert options with individual wine pairings. Photo/City Kitchen

The second course features Frutti di Mare con risotto, or jumbo scallops, gulf shrimp and cherry tomatoes folded into arborio rice; New York strip char-grilled with mushroom brandy cream sauce, asparagus and scalloped potatoes; rainbow trout pan-seared and topped with a lump crab relish; and veal saltimbocca with a white wine butter sauce, asparagus spears and wild mushroom risotto.

Finally, the third dessert course offers the choice between a chocolate Chambord cake or strawberry shortcake cheesecake and, of course, suggested wine pairings.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird, located at 220 Union St. inside Hotel Indigo, is a bar and kitchen right on the waterfront that offers a seafood menu that follows the rhythm of the seasons. Some options include clambakes, fish fries, oyster roasts and whole fish. Hummingbird also offers eggplant gratin as a popular starter.

“It’s got this nice little spiciness to it, it’s got tomato in it, it’s a nice little vegetarian starter that I really like to order if I’m a little peckish,” Manager Nathaniel Berman said.

Hummingbird is also known for its eponymous cake, a traditionally southern dessert with rum and cream cheese frosting and dehydrated pineapple.

The Hummingbird cake is made with rum and pineapple. Photo/Hummingbird

For Valentine’s Day the restaurant will offer a signature drink called the Cosmic Love Bird, which includes rose shaped ice made out of ingredients in a typical cosmo like triple sec, cranberry, lime and vodka. The pink ice will be in the middle of a glass filled with champagne to get into the spirit of the holiday.

“It’s going to be a nice, pretty pink rose ice, and it’ll melt into the drink as people talk and laugh and have fun,” Berman said.

Bastille Brasserie & Bar

Those desiring a sophisticated yet cozy environment with a splash of French culture will find it at Bastille Brasserie & Bar, located at 606 N. Fayette St. The restaurant offers modern takes on traditional French cuisine, with all ingredients locally sourced and seasonal.

France, often hailed as one of the most romantic countries in the world, brings its flair to Bastille’s Valentine’s Day prixfixe menu. Each of the three courses offers an array of options, as well as premium wine pairings. Just some of the “premier” course options include a bisque de homard, consisting of lobster, creme fraiche and chives, and salade de betteraves, consisting of beets, oranges, arugula, pistachios, goat cheese and shallot dressing.

Some of the “deuxieme” course options include the filet mignon, with angus beef filet mignon, bordelaise sauce, potato gratin and mushrooms, and the daurade, with Mediterranean sea bream filet, lemon brown butter caper sauce, fingerling potatoes and roasted olives.

The final “troisième” course offers three choices: “Fromage Compose,” delice de Bourgogne cow’s milk cheese with Amarena cherries and candied nuts; “Cerises et Creme,” cheesecake with red cherries, graham sable and chocolate; and “Mon Coeur,” with Valrhona Tainori dark chocolate and raspberry ice cream.

Cafe 44

Cafe 44 in North Old Town, located at the top of the 44 Canal Center Plaza, will offer a four-course prix-fixe menu on both Saturday and Tuesday to give patrons more opportunities to try the Valentine’s Day special menu. For the first course patrons will receive the chef’s charcuterie, a selection of fig and honey goat cheese, prosciutto, cranberry stilton, chocolate chips, raspberry jam and pita crackers.

For the second course, guests will choose one of several options: shrimp and tomato bisque, salad with bacon and brown butter breadcrumbs, or seared ahi tuna. The third course offers choices between baked cod, osso buco, seafood tagliolini neri or vegetable risotto.

Cafe 44’s baked cod features cherry chutney, potato puree and sage gremolata. Photo/Cafe 44

Finally, the fourth desert course gives a choice between espresso chocolate torte and red velvet cake. There are also his and her cocktails guests can choose from; the Lady Jane is a cherry and peppercorn infused tequila cocktail with lime, agave and prosecco rose, and the Cabin in the Woods is a hickory smoked wood cocktail with four roses bourbon, black walnut maple syrup and orange bitters.

Want some nice scenery? Because it overlooks the Potomac River, Cafe 44 offers magnificent views. Getting to the restaurant involves taking an elevator up several stories, and the indoor-outdoor seating offers an option for every occasion.

“We dim the lights, put candles on every table, have nice music, it really sets the tone,” owner Jula Coggins said. “… Our location is quite unique, it’s sort of like a speakeasy vibe on your way up and then you come in and are like, ‘Okay, I get it.’”

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